I was pleased to learn, from the Sun Journal’s recent coverage about Gov. Janet Mills’ visit to the Sweatt-Winter Child Care and Early Education Center at the University of Maine at Farmington, the great news that the center will receive $3.1 million in funding to expand its programs.

High-quality child care programs are increasingly important. They are key to parents being able to go to work and be fully attentive to their jobs, knowing their kids are safe and well cared for. Equally important, these programs also can significantly reduce the chances of a child growing up to become delinquent or even a criminal.

My perspective comes from nearly four decades in law enforcement and witnessing how the lack of properly supervised activities may lead kids down the wrong path. Additionally, research tells us that not only are the first five years of life critical to a child’s physical, emotional, social and cognitive development, but also that kids who participate in early learning programs are significantly less likely to commit crimes as they grow older.

New funding for UMF’s early learning programs will make a big difference by expanding the number of available child care slots for eligible kids and increasing student enrollment capacity in UMF’s early childhood education programs.

Combined with $12 million in wage supplements for child care workers in Maine’s pending supplemental budget, which I fully support, these investments in early education programs and Maine’s child care workforce will build a stronger, safer future for all Mainers.

Jack Peck Jr., Farmington, retired Farmington police chief

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